Loaves & Dishes
By Jennie Geisler Erie Times-News staff blogger
Follow Jennie Geisler's kitchen adventures on her Loaves & Dishes blog.   Read more about this blog.
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Archive for August, 2010
Posted: August 31st, 2010

My  first year of canning, I ran all over town trying to buy equipment. I’d find one dusty shelf with a dozen jars and the scavenger hunt would continue.

Then, a year or two ago, a family member went into a nursing home, and all her canning stuff came to me. Boxes and boxes of dusty jars and kettles. I didn’t think I’d ever use it all.

Now, suddenly, stores everywhere devote entire displays to canning supplies. They’re at Kmart, Wal Mart, Wegmans, Giant Eagle, even my tiny little grocery store in Conneaut, Ohio.

At the beginning of this season, I laughed about how hard I’d had to look, and now that I had plenty, they’re everywhere. But now it’s not all that funny, because, I have indeed — smack dab in the middle of tomato canning season and at least a month away from apple season — run out of pint jars.

And so has everyone else. A display at Wegmans last night was all jelly jars and quarts. I don’t want quarts of tomatoes. I want pints of tomatoes. You know?

Just like that, I’m back in the scavenger hunt. Beware pint-jar hoarders. I will find you.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: August 30th, 2010

If your basil is throwing off flower stems, don’t feel guilty. Just get out there and save it from itself. It only takes a minute, plus three weeks. Just chop off the flowers and pick about half of it. Get the herbs in the morning when their flavor oils are at their height for the day.

Young herbs are better, but basil can be very forgiving. If you can still smell it when you pick it, it’s fine.

Remove basil stems and put the leaves on a paper towel, cover with another paper towel and then do nothing. In three or four weeks, you’ll have dried basil. Throw out your store-bought stuff and crumble your dried basil leaves into the empty container.

If you want to use basil in a brave new way make it into syrup that you can add to tea, cocktails, or mixed up in fruit as in the following recipe.

Just to make the syrup, Heat 3/4 cup water to a boil with 3 to 4 tablespoons sugar in a saucepan over medium heat. Reduce heat to low; simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved,3-5 minutes. Add the lime zest. Let it cool and stir in the basil slivers.

– Los Angeles Times.

For more information, check this out: sns-newsletter-food-beyond-pesto,0,5561878.story

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: August 25th, 2010

I sliced a huge, red ripe homegrown tomato last night, topped it with a leaf of real iceberg lettuce (not the bagged stuff), Miracle Whip (light), bacon and built it with three halves of Arnold’s sandwich thins.I should have toasted the bread, but I was too hungry to wait.

I put sliced turkey on the first one for a club sandwich, and just had tomatoes, lettuce and dressing on the second one. Club sandwiches are a guilty pleasure for me in restaurants, but mine was better.

My hands were a mess. A tomato seed fell on my shirt. It was awesome. More tomato news as the week unfolds. Next I’m making tomato basil pie.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: August 24th, 2010

Last week, while vacationing in Myrtle Beach, I promised a review of the Brazilian grill restaurant, Rioz. The basic idea is you get a huge salad bar, with unlimited roasted meat in 10 kinds. All you had to do was flip over your disk, and servers would come by and slice you off a hunk of meat.

John and I had tried a similar restaurant set-up a few years ago, and he enjoyed it as much as he did last time. I don’t know where he put all the food he ate, but he said he got his money’s worth.

And that was not cheap. The salad bar alone ran $22 per person, and the whole meat dinner cost $35. Kids ate free. I wasn’t as excited about spending $13 to eat meat. I should have, because that’s the point. The salad bar is clearly meant to play a supporting role. The shrimp cocktail was good. The cheese bar rocked. The pasta salad had potential.

I also tried pickled hearts of palm. Glad that’s over with. Quail eggs are just tiny hard-cooked eggs. That was fine. Cooked salmon in dill/Dijon sauce took the cake. The key lime pie was worth the trip all by itself. The sushi was reportedly awesome, but it was lost on me.

The restaurant was impressive in its efficiency. The place was packed but the service was great. The fun part was watching the servers slide chicken nuggets off the roasting stick for the kids.

Check out the restaurant’s web site here

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: August 19th, 2010

Hi. Still at the timeshare. Mixed feelings about that, but let’s say we’re all eating well. My MIL just made a fabulous addition to our midday feast. It makes me wish I’d planted squash. She took yellow squash and zucchini, medium sized ones, sliced them into half moons.

She dusted them in flour and seasoned salt, and pan fried them with nothing else but a dusting of salt. My SIL and husband and I didn’t let them get cold. We each had a plateful, and they kept on coming. She finally quit, which was a good thing because I would have exploded.

It’s the greatest way I’ve found to use up veggies so good it actually made me feel guilty.

We’re going to a restaurant that serves something called Brazilian Grill, unlimited meat and mind blowing buffet. My BIL tells me I like it because it has all kinds of “exotic stuff.” I’ll report  back tomorrow.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: August 18th, 2010

I hope you get a chance to see this week’s food section cover, about the 10 Erie women who gathered to celebrate the release of the movie, “Eat Pray Love.”

Hearing about that story reminds me about how girlfriends get together for no reason at all, or at least a semblance of an excuse. There’s something cleansing and refreshing about a night with good food, laughter and lingering over wine. It changes your perspective on other parts of life that can wear you down.

Author and main character Elizabeth Gilbert is, at least for the moment, something of a modern day Jack Kerouac. Her true story has cult following written all over it. A touchstone, a reason to gather, to ignore the dust bunnies, to nourish women’s need for social contact.

And to eat.

To check out the story about these women, just click here.

Here’s a recipe to whet your appetite: It’s a simple classic that transports you to Italy, even if you’ve never been there.


1 large head (approximately 1/2 pound) of fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1 or 2 large vine-ripened tomatoes, room temperature, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1/2 cup fresh basil, torn into pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
Sea salt, to taste
1. Arrange the mozzarella slices on a large serving plate. Place a tomato slice on top of each slice of cheese.
2. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle the torn basil leaves on top of the slices. Add sea salt to taste.
– Kim Seastone
Serves 8
- Per serving: 151 calories, 12.5 grams fat, 0 fiber, 7.7 grams protein, 2.3 grams carbohydrate, 183 milligrams sodium, 15 milligrams cholesterol. Values are approximate.
– Kim Seastone

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: August 16th, 2010

I apologize in advance, friends. I’m on vacation and posts will be sporadic. We’re in Myrtle Beach. Don’t be too jealous. I’m with 9 family members in three bedrooms, three kids 7 and younger. Fun, but you have to be flexible, patient and take quite a few deep breaths.

One great thing is that we have a full kitchen. Sarah, my sister in law loves to cook, almost more than I do, and she made us a coffee cake to eat this morning that was moist and rich. It’s not going to help you drop any pounds, but I’ll tell you it is delicious with a fresh coffee.

Deathly afraid of heights, I tried sit out on the balcony with my serving, but after a few minutes I figured I’d be just as happy looking at the ocean from inside. The coffee cake helped a lot.

Here’s the recipe Sarah used. This one makes an 8-inch square pan. Double for 9-inch-by-13-inch 9-person-sized version.

1 1/2 cup Bisquick
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 egg
3/4 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons firm butter until crumbly
1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Combine all ingredients except topping; beat vigorously 1 minute.
3. Spread batter in greased 8-inch square pan. Sprinkle with topping.
4. Bake 35 minutes.

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: August 13th, 2010

I used to think Martha Stewart was evil incarnate, exploiting women who already had an inferiority complex about their domestic skills. I’d go on, but no one has time.

My opinion of Stewart and her various permutations is now more seasoned and complex. I still roll my eyes at her hand-crafted sea shell light strings, her pressed-pansy coasters and hand-stamped stars-and-stripes dog costumes. (I made that one up.)
But when it comes to recipes and trend-spotting acumen, I drank the Kool-Aid a few years ago. I get the Martha Stewart cookie-a-day newsletter, the craft-of-the-day newsletter, the Whole Living newsletter and the Everyday Food newsletter, and find great recipes and ideas all the time.

As for the inferiority complex, I’m over it. Martha Stewart isn’t even a person anymore. She’s an idea farm. I don’t care if she’s sitting in jail or jetting around the world making cookies wearing a white linen suit. Especially not when “she’s” offering up 58 great-looking recipes for zucchini and yellow squash.
Here’s just one. Find the rest of them here

Zucchini and Yellow Squash Gratin
2 tablespoons butter
2 medium zucchini (about 7 ounces each), sliced crosswise 1 inch thick
2 medium yellow squash (about 7 ounces each), sliced crosswise 1 inch thick
2 shallots, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced coarse salt and ground pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup panko
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat; add zucchini, yellow squash, shallots, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until zucchini and squash are crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes.
3. Add cream, and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat; stir in 1/2 cup panko and cup Parmesan.
4. Spoon mixture into a shallow 2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining panko and Parmesan; season with salt and pepper.
5. Bake until top is golden, 8 to 10 minutes.
– www.MarthaStewart.com

Posted in: Uncategorized
Posted: August 12th, 2010

It’s been a while since we had a decent chick flick, so “Eat Pray Love” is overdue. But better late than never. The story, written as a memoir by Elizabeth Gilbert, comes to the silver screen Friday. It brings with it an elixir of food, spirituality and independence that many women have found irresistible. It’s become a lightning rod for issues we all face, but never give ourselves time to work out. Time for the family, time for work, time for ourselves simply don’t all fit into a 24-hour day.

While the story is about a woman who left it all behind for a year, it somehow inspires appreciation for what we have right here at home.

That includes girlfriends.

10 Erie women will gather Saturday night — sans spouses and children — to share ethnic foods from the countries Gilbert visits. After dinner, they’ll all head to the movie at Tinseltown. And after that, the hope is, they’ll all breath a sigh of contentment about how lucky we are to lead our so-called mundane lives.

Join us in celebrating the story here on the Loaves & Dishes blog. Share comments, recipes and connections with other women who feel the way you do.

To jump start the conversation, skim these websites for insight: Elizabeth Gilbert, the movie. The Facebook page

To leave your comments, questions, recipes, etc., click on the “Eat Pray Love” category below.

Posted in: Eat Pray Love
Posted: August 11th, 2010

If you’re checking here in a desperate attempt to find something for dinner, stop by your grocery store and pick up some salmon fillets. I’m betting you haven’t had that in a while. Broil it on a baking sheet and it’s done in 8 minutes. Dress it first, if you want, with a firey seasoning blend, lemon pepper, or just salt and pepper.

Grab a SteamFresh bag of green beans, and throw a few ears of sweet corn on the baking pan with the fish. You’ll be at the table in 20 minutes from when you walked in, and you’ll even have time to change your clothes.

Ready, set, go

Posted in: Uncategorized

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